4th Graders ‘Flip-The-Switch’ On Solar-Powered Classroom

Earlier this year, EarthTechling reported a heart-warming story about a dedicated North Carolina teacher and a class of 4th grade students hoping to crowdfund their own renewable energy experiment. The students, from Central Park School in Durham, North Carolina, led by their teacher, Aaron Sebens, successfully raised six times their initial goal, bringing in $5,000 in funds to take their classroom completely off the grid.

We’ve been wondering what happened to Sebens and those kids once the fundraising ended. What did they do with the cash and have they been able to successfully convert their classroom to a solar and wind-powered example for the rest of us? Lucky for us we stumbled upon an update from none other than the US Department of Energy, which has been following their progress.

NC solar classroom Aaron Sebens

Image via Aaron Sebes/Kickstarter

After crashing through all of its stretch goals, the solar-powered classroom campaign found itself with enough to explore other types of energy in addition to solar. In mid April, when they returned to school after their Spring Break, the students found that all the components of their solar panels and wind turbine had been delivered!

On April 21st, the class held their first solar workday: painting the wind turbine’s tower green and the blades yellow to make it look like a daisy, and writing messages from the Kickstarter backers onto the six solar panels. With the help of some adults, they were also able to hoist the panels onto the roof via a window, and installed an inverter on the wall.

About a month of tinkering, painting, and wiring later, they were ready to flip the switch. They held a party for local supporters to join in the fun, and live-streamed the entire thing for their international supporters.

“The promise of solar energy extends far beyond one classroom in Durham,” wrote the DOE’s Minh Le in a blog post about the 4th graders’ accomplishment. “Every day, as the director of the Energy Department’s Solar Program, I get to witness the impact this industry is having across America. As the students’ project shows, solar is taking off as a clean and affordable source of energy.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog